IN THE sports betting world, there are two premier events.
Many immediately look to March Madness because betting, both legal and illegal, is such a major fixture of the tournament.
Case in point, filling out your bracket. Men and women both, some of whom haven't watch a game all season and consider the two allotments of time played during collegiate basketball as innings, still diligently fill out their bracket and drop down some cold hard cash in hopes of winning big.
But the tournament is a lengthy process with many games.
It's the Super Bowl that is the single biggest sports betting event of the year.
This year's event, pitting the New England Patriots and New York Giants in a rematch of the 2007 title game, has the Patriots on a quest for vengeance after the Giants ended their hopes of a perfect season.
Despite defeating New England at Foxboro earlier this season, the boys from New York are a three-point underdog.
That one number, the points spread, is called more into focus considering in the Patriots' previous four Super Bowls, the underdog has covered all four times. The winning team in each game had a three-point margin of victory.
For the Vegas-style sports betting, as well as the many illegal and off-shore establishments, the points spread is the top of the list as far as betting action.
It's far from the only action.
Sportsbook.com, an online sports wagering site, has just about every betting angle you can think of for Sunday's game - and some you can't.
Who figures to score the first touchdown? Now that it appears he'll be playing, Patriots' record-setting tight end Rob Gronkowski figures to be the most likely choice and is +500. He's followed by New York's Hakeem Nicks at +700 and the Pats' Aaron Hernandez at +800. All the way at the bottom, listed at +25,000, is the category "no one scores a touchdown."
A winning $10 wager on no one to score would pay $2,500. Given the two offenses taking part in Sunday's game, it's a fool's bet. But one that would pay quite nicely, should it hold.
How many passes Eli Manning throws; total points scored, which quarter will be the highest scores; all these are possible betting lines.
But how about something more obscure? Say, what's the over/under on how long it will take pop sensation Kelly Clarkson to get through the national anthem? It's currently set at 1:35.
Betting is even on the winning coach taking a water or clear Gatorade shower while blue Gatorade is the highest paying flavor/color at +1000.
There will even be action on whether Madonna, the halftime entertainment, will or won't wear fishnet stockings at any point during her performance.
Also, who will the game's Most Valuable Player thank first during his postgame speech? Currently, God is the safest bet at +125, followed by teammates (+200), no one (+250), coaches/owner (+400) and family (+500). Surely, if the Broncos and quarterback Tim Tebow had made the Super Bowl, you can bet the line on thanking God would be closer to zero.
There are less serious methods to bet, usually done amongst friends, coworkers and relatives.
These usually come in the form of straight-up bets ($5 on the Pats to win) and Super Bowl betting pools (picking a square on a paper, giving you a set of numbers to match at the end of each quarter).
One national survey has predicted roughly 25,000,000 Americans will be betting on the Super Bowl, with 18-29 year old males the most likely age and gender group to place a bet.
Here's a thought however. Watch the game, enjoy a good time with family and friends, eats lots of food and hold on to your money.
Hughes may be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org